The Mos Espa podrace circuit was a podracing course located on Tatooine. Encircling Ben's Mesa near Mos Espa, the circuit formed the race track for the annual Boonta Eve Classic held by the Hutt Clan. The varying terrain created by Tatooine's long lost oceans were dangerous to navigate at high speeds, adding to the excitement of races.
The planet Tatooine's port city of Mos Espa was known for its dangerous podrace circuit which hosted the famous three-lapped Boonta Eve Classic held by the Hutt Clan every year. In addition, the Mos Espa podrace circuit was also used for countless other races. Enclosing the tall cliffs of Ben's Mesa, named after the podracer who lost his life in an attempt to scale the central mesa, the circuit was the official course of many races. Despite this, podracers competing at such races continued to take alternative routes in attempts to create winning shortcuts.
Leaving Mos Espa
The circuit began at the Grand Arena erected in the outskirts of Mos Espa. Harbored at Hutt Flats' fringes, the arena's starting grid allowed racers to prepare their vehicles and line up for the race. Many pilots stalled at the grid, and pit droids were poised to move any such podracers lest returning racers collide with the stallers.
Etched into the Waldo Flats under Ben's Mesa and by Mos Espa was the Waldo Grade, a bend that consisted of small irregular twists connecting the Arena's grounds to Mushroom Mesa. This mesa's top-heavy stone pillars were discernable by seasoned pilots of the course to be faces that changed expressions from different points of view, a phenomenon that, due to the shadows and harsh sunlight cast upon the mesa, confused pilots' depth perception. Thus, podracers gave total focus to the section of the circuit; those who did not, such as the three-eyeed Gran Mawhonic, who payed more attention to his competitors than the course, had their vehicles crashed at the mesa.
Past the assailing lighting, Mushroom Mesa's high escarpment dropped racers into Ebe Crater Valley. The sudden descent crashed many racers, threatening even the Boonta Eve podrace veteran Sebulba as the dug nearly lost control of his vehicle when it hit the ground during a race in 32 BBY.
Around Ben's Mesa
From Ebe Crater Valley, racers coursed directly for Beggar's Canyon through its entryway, the Notch, before speeding through the exile– and bounty hunters-in-hiding– inhabited barranca past the Diablo Cut and Dead Man's Turn and reaching the Desert Plain.
Located within Beggar's Canyon was a steep service ramp. Intended to provide race personnel access to the race course for scavenging or repair work on cam droids, service ramps rose from the valley floors to higher ground. However, no podracer successfully raced over the ramp and safely descended further along the circuit from beyond the podracer's maximum repulsorlift altitude save for the young Anakin Skywalker, who dropped into the Desert Plain ahead.
The dug podracer Sebulba saw the long, flat Desert Plain as a brief relief from the more difficult sections of the podrace circuit. Sebulba's thoughts were thus turned to unconventional tricks, sabotaging other racers' vehicles along the desert wilderness. The plain's open space also provided ample scavenging opportunities for native Jawas. Organized in small teams of several individuals throughout the circuit, they observed the race from close distances and competed with the official raceway's P-100 salvage droids for scrap podrace parts from crashes. Parts taken by the salvage droids were auctioned off or sold, usually to Jawas, unless they were claimed by its owner within two hours.
Although lesser races routed podracers over the Dune Sea, the Boonta Eve circuit went across the Arch Canyon, a jagged cluster of stone columns that littered the narrowing path around Ben's Mesa into a section of the raceway likened in width to Beggar's Canyon.
Bends to Hutt Flats
Known as the Whip, the section precursor to the Jag Crag Gorge featured large-scale turns that deviated from Ben's Mesa. However, the circuit returned to follow the central mesa's claw-shaped contour, leading racers into the Laguna Caves, an underground network of caves that exited along a ridge that extended from Ben's Mesa.
Despite the relatively straight path that laid between the Laguna Caves entrances, podracers on the circuit were susceptible to crashing into a stalactite within the dark environment. Additionally, the caves encased the dwellings of the widely feared krayt dragon, whose inhabitation of the circuit segment deterred rescue teams from assisting crash survivors.
From the cave network's sizeable exit, the race circuit continued through the Canyon Dune Turn, a long trail that weaved around one of Ben's Mesa's extended ridges that led podracers down a valley wider than Beggar's Canyon as well as the latter's more spacious predecessor, the Waldo Grade. However, by around 32 BBY, the Canyon Dune Turn's cliffs came to be a frequented slugthrower shooting site of the native Tusken Raiders, posing a risk to racers' lives as the incoming fire threatened to pierce the hull of racing engines and damage podracers. Despite numerous anonymous complaints made by pilots to race officials, the protests amounted to nothing as Raiders' presence became a popular feature of the Boonta Eve Classic.
Nevertheless, podracers unaffected by the Tusken Raiders' shots sped to the Bindy Bend, a meandering turn that eroded into Ben's Mesa. The bend's curve on the nearside featured jagged rocks following a large stone spindle, blocking racers' way around the turn. As such, pilots were forced to avoid the rocks on the nearside as they proceeded down the podrace circuit.
The race circuit led podracers and increadingly smaller rocks funnelling into the Coil, a narrow canyon that twisted from the central mesa and turned into Jett's Chute, a large, particularly hazardous bend that featured multiple arches. Race spectators argued over the effectiveness of either weaving in and out of the rock formations or slipping through them, with the latter strategy having become known as "threading the needle."
Past the arches, pilots descended from Jett's Chute to the winding canyon path known as the Corkscrew, from which the cliff-sides closed into Devil's Doorknob, a gap that required racers to flip their repulsorcraftson their sides to pass through to the open space of the Hutt Flats.
The final push
The dried bed of the prehistoric Lake Anre, the Hutt Flats formed the final section of the Mos Espa circuit. Podracers scrambled for positions over the vast grounds by the Northern Dune Sea, allowing pilots to accelerate to top speed and openly attack other contenders in their attempts to fly through the Grand Arena's finishing line, completing the podrace circuit.
Behind the scenes
The racecourse first appeared in the 1999 prequel trilogy film Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace. It was fully illustrated and first identified as the Mos Espa podrace circuit in the 2000 reference title Inside the Worlds of Star Wars: Episode I, though it was not until the publication of the 2016 Star Wars: Complete Locations reference book that the name and illustration were canonized.
- Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace (First appearance)
- Star Wars Journeys: The Phantom Menace
- Star Wars Journeys: Beginnings
- Choose Your Destiny: A Podracer Mission
- Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
- Disney Infinity 3.0
- LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures – "Race on Tatooine"
- LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales – "Exit from Endor" (In flashback(s))
- Star Wars: Complete Locations (First identified as Mos Espa podrace circuit)
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 66 (Weapons & Uniforms: Growing up on Tatooine)